Dec 03

Boots Blogger Event – Sensationail

Last week I attended a blogger event, pulled together under the auspices of Boots I believe. It was aimed at beauty bloggers, so not 100% sure why I was on the list, but it was a very good event, looking at 2 different devices that use light to help you in the quest for looking and feeling good.

First of these was the more straightforward. It’s Sensationail, a system that provides you with the ability to use gel nail varnish at home. The key component is a light nail dryer. Powered by LED lights, (so it stays reasonably cool), the lamp dries the layers in 60 seconds, so that it easy to create great looking nails.

Sensationail Starter Kit

Sensationail Starter Kit

I like wearing nail varnish, but it is something I don’t do very often. i tend to have 2 major problems. First, getting the varnish on and getting it dried before it smudges and smears. Secondly, keeping it on as I’m prone to too many chips.

The system seems to help me with both problems. The process to paint your nails does take a while, with at least 5 different layers to be added – cleaner, base 1, base 2, polish layer (there can be more than one), then top coat. But with the light system, it dries very quickly, so I never managed to get it smudged.

So far, I have not managed to chip the gel polish. I have, however, managed to flake of sections but this is directly attributed to where I did not finish the application properly, either taking it too far onto skin or not capping the nail. the ones where I managed to get it all right, it sticks on well without chipping. The lesson? I need a LOT more practice!

Two other things I was told that sounds good – you can mix the colours to make your own new ones and it’s great for nail art as you can paint and wipe until it’s right before setting it.

Not my usual post, but it was a great event and I picked up a lot of tips. Perfect for dressing up for the Christmas party this week!

Mar 19

Red Dawn Screening

Last week I went to a preview screening for Red Dawn (the 2012 version, not the one that was released in 1984). It was a blogger screening (or at least a blog readers screening) that I had won from Mel at Miss Geeky. I’ve been lucky this year with Mel – I’d previously won a great Les Miserables prize pack.

So how was the film? In generally, pretty enjoyable! I have fond recollections of the first one (I wonder how many people watching remembered that) and was interested to see how they would update it. First of all, it’s North Korea who does the invading instead of the Russians – although apparently it was originally China, but they changed it in post. But the rest of it seems to be pretty similar. A group of teens fight it out against the invading force, somehow managing to be an effective guerilla force. It could have been a little less soppy in places, but I had a good time watching.

As someone who has run screenings before, I was also interested in how it was put together. Unfortunately, one of the poorer ones. Pre-film nibbles were crisps and water/juice/pop (the reason being is that <18 may have been watching the film). But I thought they could have at least done a 'thank you for coming, here's some info for you' speech at some point instead of just saying nothing and letting the film run!

Jan 21

Linked In Best Practice Guide

Duncan Chapple’s post brought to my attention that the LinkedIn guide that I contributed to last year (in fact, last May) is now online. The B2B Marketing Linked In Best Practice Guide is available for purchase now. I’ve started looking through the rest of the book (I contributed the section on Brand Building) and so far loving the contribution of the others. As well as Duncan, there are sections from Andy Bargery, Mark Fones and Maya Grinberg

Dec 09

Guinness Glasses and Cravendale Straws

Social media and word of mouth is the new advertising and nothing else is needed – well, according to some social media’gurus’. As Ramon De Leon said at Le Web, advertising (the old version) is the tax on being boring. He may be right to an extent, but there’s no doubt that his Domino’s franchises will still benefit from the the national advertising spend that the parent company provide. I wouldn’t call Ramon a social media guru, given I reserve that term for those who talk more than they act and the key thing that he does is act – and continue to deliver on his commitments.

However, social media – on its own – does not replace other means of marketing. It complements it, adds to the mix and is undoubtably one of the key ways to develop relationships with brand fans and advocates. Working with ‘influencers’ – meaning people with a strong online presence that may have an influence on a potential customer – is now extremely common with markets. But the problem has been how can you determine who is an influencer. Peer Index is one of the services that have grown over the last few years to help answer that question. By bringing together a person’s social media profiles and activities they provide a ‘influence ranking’ that brands and agencies can then use to find people who may talk about their brand.

But how good is the ranking? Does it replace the more manual method of reviewing blogs and working with them to develop a relationship? On the one hand, it’s quicker and cheaper to ask for a list of a few 1000 people that may meet the criteria set then spending day and weeks working, reading, understanding the audience you are trying to reach and finding the right people to talk to. But the success rate is probably harder to forecast.

Over the last few months, I’ve been targeted with 3 different Peer Perks which demonstrate that its not always that easy to use the services to generate online activity – it all depends on how you create the filters.

The first, the least successful for me was for the launch of a new lottery. The brand’s marketing plan obviously included a lot of space for social media and WOM, given it also partnered with Klout as well as Peer Index. But I wonder what the target audience was and why I was targeted? Trying to find blog posts that mention that lottery, the campaign did not appear to be that successful!

Guinness Glasses

The second was with Guinness, as part of their campaign this autumn. Influencers who opted-in received 6 half-pint Guinness Glasses as well as an entry into a draw to win a ‘Guinness Class’ trip to Dublin. They were also out in the pubs, offering sampling and more chances to win at pubs around the country for 2 months. As well as using Peer Index, Guinness also appeared to do targeted outreach, providing additional content and placing sponsored posts across specific blogs (eg this one with Tiki Chris). The third level was the more usual PR, ie this AOL piece. There’s a lot more to this integrated campaign, but you can see here how Guinness have used different types of influencers to provide widespread coverage. Although I’d hazard a guess that these 3 elements were managed by 3 different agencies 🙂

The third perk was for Cravendale Milk. Again as part of a larger set of outreach activities, Cravendale sent out sets of Epic Straws (that link will probably die at some point, as it’s campaign related) along with vouchers for their milk. I’ve loved playing with the straws but I’ve not cashed in the milk vouchers for myself as its unusual if I get through more than a pint in a week! They did the more regular PR and also worked with Britmums to target what I would say is a better audience than I – Moms! This was combined with all sorts of other promotions, such as on-pack vouchers to get your own set of straws. All of this generated a lot of coverage, from what I can see the most out of the 3 I was offered.

A mixed bunch then. The first, not for me at all. The second, definitely right for me, giving me both a physical object to remind me all about Guinness and the opportunity to win a greater prizes. The 3rd I like as a campaign and I LOVE the straws, but it probably better targeted at parents than someone like me. I’ll be passing on the straws and milk vouchers to my family as they’ll make far more use of both.

May 13

Twitter Censors

I woke up today to find that Twitter has decided to break itself and started to censor what it shows me. Before today, when I decided to follow someone, I saw all of their public tweets, all of their replies, no matter to whom they were replying. This was a setting in the system, allowing me to see everything. However, by default, it was turned off. Given that few people never change the default, most people did not use this setting, which could be part of the reason why they never quite get it, why there is such a drop off rate. This means of finding out who is interesting, who is involved in conversations with people you follow, is one of the key features that allows you to enjoy the serendipity of finding new people.

BUt now it’s gone. Removed as an option. The Twitter blog says:

Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

So now they’re controlling what I can see, they’ve removed the choice. They’re censoring what I can hear. It’s the equivalent of being in a pub with a few friends and a bunch of new people and not hearing any of the conversation between everyone else. I’m not the only one who sees it this way, just search for the hashtag #fixreplies

Twitter Fix Replies (screenshot from site)

Twitter Fix Replies (screenshot from site)

Twitter, this needs to go back. I make a choice to follow people and I make a choice to follow everything they see. Don’t strip out content, just let me see it all.

Apr 13

Amazon Fail

Update: this becomes even more confusing.

A cataloguing error, a lack of response from Amazon followed by confusing messages and a lot of jumping to conclusions (including me) led to a social media storm that can only damage the reputation of the brand. As BL says, you need to think about how you monitor your brand all the time, not just 9-5 Mon-Fri; although Amazon did appear to be responsive over the weekend even if the answers were not fully clear.

According to Amazon, they’ve been having a ‘glitch’ over the weekend that has stripped the sales ranking form a number of books, thereby reducing the likelihood of the books appearing in searches, so impacting sales.

The only problem with this is that the glitch appears to affect gay/lesbian/sex titles only and even then the impact is inconsistent, which is unexpected if there was a logic behind it. Playboy and Girls Gone Wild is not adult under the glitch, but literature with a gay themes is, even when there’s no sex written about. Apparently, before they called it a glitch, they had called it a policy according to the email received by Mark Probst

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

If you’re on Twitter, or have been reading feeds over the weekend, you’ll have seen this. It appears that the power of public opinion, published all over the web has forced Amazon to update a policy to a glitch and then to fix it. But is it enough to rescue their reputation or the new meaning of Amazon Rank

Apr 03

Guardian Word of Mouth Chocolate Tasting


Last night, the Guardian Word of Mouth blog ran a chocolate tasting and they really did deliver. There was a room full of pieces of chocolate Easter Eggs for us to enjoy, ranging from supermarket basic types all the way up to gourmet organic chocolate. As well as bowls and bowls of choc, there was the opportunity to try some port or Courvoisier. or some Gonzalez Byass exclusive sherry or even to get a demonstration of chocolate making. It was a brilliant evening, ably organised by Suse and everyone looked liked they were enjoying themselves as they ate their way to a chocolate haze.

Writing this up, there’s definitely on improvement they could make – a list of brands to take away so I could remember what I liked! BUt I have some recollection. My favourite from the eggs was the Daylesford Organic dark chocolate. The chocolate truffles from Paul A Young, both the Guinness and the basil were brilliant for my favourite taste overall was the ‘raw’ chocolate from Mayan Magic, who gave a demonstration of making your own (coming to Selfridges next week)

Chocsaway on Twitter

Chocsaway on Twitter

Update: here’s some more posts about the event

Eternally Neurotic

Nov 27

London 2012 and Social Media

On the one hand, the Olympics are the most wonderful celebration of humanity, of striving to be the best, faster, higher, stronger as the motto says. On the other hand, I find them – the organisation behind the games – to be one of the most cynical and grasping of organisations, historically prone to corruption, pushing their weight around to control the image, the trademarks, the media rights, anything that generates money.

This evening, I went along to the IET for a Pinkerton Lecture, on using social media to inspire change. Delivered by Alex Balfour, who is the Head of New Media for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, it was a brilliant run through of the social media landscape (targeted at the majority of the audience who wouldn’t necessarily play in the space) and an introduction to what LOCOG is doing when it comes to social media.

As Alex ran through some of the innovations that his team has been repsonsible for, such as putting education packs online instead of using mailouts, of putting information for training camp venues up on the web, I wanted to challenge him. Where was the social media, where was the innovation? What he was talking about wasn’t ‘new’, but only new in the old definition of media. An understanding of the mindset of the overall organisation was given when, in answer to one of my questions at the end of the session, let it be known that the media broadcast rights for the 2016 Games, which included digital broadcast, will be signed up in 2009, 7 years before the games, even before the host city is confirmed. Whilst I could understand agreeing traditional TV rights, how can you even understand what could be done online that far ahead? The reasoning given was financial, that TV rights in effect add a huge amount to the running of the games. But why assign them before you know how much it’s going to cost, before you know which city is running it and how much they need. Given the current negotiations with the London budget and how they are going to afford the games, surely it would be better to sign things up closer to the time, when you know costs AND now what you can sell given a changing rights landscape.

Alex also mentioned that the 2010 Winter games are having to work out how they will cope with the media applications from non-traditional outlets, meaning bloggers and online newsites. I asked about this for 2012, but the answer was not clear about the access that would be granted for online reporters.

Alex covered some of the initiatives they have been running with, for example one around the handover parties that took place in August, where they asked people to contribute videos and images of celebration to add to a video they would show at the parties. Another example would be a call for images and content that could be used as part of the venues, either a collection of the content built up over the lead into the games, or ‘live’ stuff created during the games. They are working in a difficult environment, hampered by what sound like unbelievably stupid rules, such as a ban on linking to any site that is not a sponsor, but I’d like to see how they are going to approach some of the challenges

  • One of the basic tenets of social media is sharing. How are they going to let people share the Games, through images, video, remixes, mashups of broadcast content (after the live broadcast)etc if all the ‘rights’ are tied up.
  • With the assumption that every single person at the games will have a mobile phone capable of photography, video capture and live broadcast to the web, how are you going to support that?
  • The sharing of content is often dependent on the use of tags but most of the expected tags wouls be copyrighted or trademarked. Are you going to police that?

One definite conclusion I came away with is that the games will allow social media as long as they control it, as long as it’s on their terms. A couple of videos were shown, one from the Handover celebrations and one from the announcement of the London win. I was in Trafalgar Square that day and recall vividly the rush of adrenaline and the euphoria of that moment, but it’s indelibly linked in memory to the happenings of the day after, so much so that I can’t watch celebration pictures without getting emotional. As I was listening to the how they plan to manage and initiate social media conversations, I was watching news and images come in on my phone about the Mumbai terrorists attacks. There is much irony for me in the contrast of social media used to connect people about what is happening in the world in real time compared to what the Olympic Committee may be forced to do, which is use the tools to leverage a commercial connection.

Aug 05

A Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival

It’s the Great British Beer Festival this week at Earl’s Court, a huge cavern of a place that is full of beer and beer drinkers. As part of their ongoing campaign to widen the appeal of beer CAMRA are running some free tours, a Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival. They’re curated by Melissa Cole, who’s an independent beer journalist and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Tonight was their first run of the tour, a group of about 12 of us were the guinea pigs for this attempt to spread the word about beer to a different audience.

My first impressions of the place were not exactly brilliant. In one corner, there was a huge group of what I assume were Cornishmen singing their national songs. Elsewhere, there were a lot of stereotypes, beer bellies and silly ‘real ale’ t-shirts that on the surface did not make this a friendly place. But first looks were deceiving and as we wandered round, we got nothing but good humour and support.

Melissa had put together a list of 40 beers to take a look at, however the tour only covered 5 of them, in 1/3 pints, to ensure we were all drinking responsibly. Here’s what we tried.

  • Wells and Young; Youngs Waggledance.. a honeyed sweet ale that was a great start. For me, it only had a very slight honey smell.
  • Copper Dragon; Golden Pippen Ale. Lovely and fruity, with lemony overtones.
  • Dark Star Expresso. Wow. a stout porter with a strong hit of coffee. As one of the party said, you could drink this for breakfast. It would go great with something like Chille Mole. But I could only drink the one at any sitting I think
  • Fuller’s Discovery.. This was a reallyy refreshing, designed to act as a bridge between lager and ales.
  • Iceni Raspberry Wheat. the first taste of this is very, very tart, but overall, it slips down a treat. I’d love this with cheese.

I liked all of them, only a small tasting, bt it’s given me new things to try. Thanks for CAMRA for organising this.

GIrl Guide To Great British Beer Festival

Mar 10

Self-replicating Awesomeness at SXSW

Deborah Schultz, Chris Heuer, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh MacLeod, David Parmet

  •  DP: Brian Oberkirch put this together – he asked 2 questions. How to market into community without being too marketer like. And how do you build a community around what you are doing?  What does ‘no marketing’ look like? How can we use social media?
  • DS: None of this is about tools or technology, but is about the customers.  Here to talk about some of the subtleties, not about the tactics. It’s about marketing, customer service, product development. the marketing silo needs to be changed, why are they afraid of the opps. This is not telling or selling, this is being in the trenches.
  • CH: what is really bugging me right now is the number of people who are saying to me ‘build me a community’ but this does make a community, it is the interpersonal connections that make it. Social media is not new media, it changes how we relate to each other. You have to shift the way you think about participation. have to change mindset from stop trying to sell me to help make me buy.
  • JO: I do a lot of research on this, such as online community best practices.  it was clear that the ones that let go and let their customers take charge have the thriving communities.
  • TH: "marketing is the price you pay for creating mediocre products". this was a big part of the reason for this panel. [history of her and move and Citizen agency] Looking at social capital – relationships and reputation.   It’s all about whuffie in these communities, what you can give away.
  • CH: you need a patronage model, where there is money, in corps, it needs room to do it in there. there has to be a genuine spirit of giving in there .
  • TH: we talk about doing things that are good for the world alongside the product that will sell.
  • HM: [wine, blogging stormhoek story.] Social objects help drive conversation. when we talk about community, when a corporation talks about it, it’s liek a lever they think they can pull, which is not there. you have a bunch of people who use and talk about the product. they are not the company community.
  • DP: the concept of giving it away for free is a powerful one, that scares the companies away.  Have used Stormhoek as an example, suggesting that companies do this.
  • DS: there are lots of companies for 100s of years…this is a new skillset that is an art rather than a science.  if you are at a small company, where you have a certain amount of control, then you have to get out of the ivory tower. get out to conferences, find the edges.  Larger companies have the problem that they only listen to the complainers, how about listening to the people who love you.   Why do small companies put up an FAQ? why not bring in people who can answer the questions? this is marketing and customer support. get out and flatten it.
  • JO: you can give away things for free, I give a lot of my knowledge for free, make people nervous.
  • HM: James Governer, gives away 90% of ideas, sells 10%. he can only execute on 10% and it works/
  • TH: you can tell people you have knowledge and they will see what they are talking about.  It’s a smart calling code.
  • CH: it’s the because effect. Will It blend gives away entertainment.
  • HM: there has been a paradigm shift from message to social gesture and that cannot be faked.
  • TH: a lot of traditional marketing aims to do a generic spread of message. you throw the net out wide and hope to catch as many. with stormhoek HM saw a great opportunity, of people who were doing a lot of events – its niche, opportunities,
  • CH: it’s not the message, it’s not the brand logo, it’s what it represents. We have to think about the human connections, about being of service to fellow human.

Audience Questions

  • Q: JO – when selecting brand evangelists, how?  And HM – what about Cooler?  A: JO: tools to find them, who is talking online, goign into communities, finding out who is talking the most, customer support forums. go to brand monitoring companies, who do good job of mining the whole place. the main point is that you can find the people, great people to start with.   HM: Kula is South Sea shells that had a story. Talking about the iphone with Tara, what matters is that tara is a friend, we talk about shared stuff. stories are key. tech is still about socialising around objects.  DS: this is about a cultural shift – getting out. Traditional not a relationship. in a relationship you can’t ignore until you have something to say. giving away things for free, the whuffie payback comes back way later. this impacts all lines of your business.
  • Q: I understand giving away the small things. what about the big stuff?

    • A: CH: audi are doing a great things. doing a lot of things around the experience, the educational classes, spa treatments.
    •  TH: some people give amazing support and service. 
    • DS: you have to break it down to smaller segments, go local. 
    •  HM: great brands have lots of little small brands, like starbucks. it’s not just about the big thing, it’s all the small things. 
  • Q: how do you actually get some money in the short term? (ref a movie, document)

    • A: HM: put half out there, and if people want to learn more they will buy it. 
    • TH: start telling the story, getting people to start telling his story.  
  • Q: giving away for free reduces perceived value?  what’s the rebuttal. 

    • A: DP..when selling things, I had a client for selling to teenage girls. they wanted to ‘go viral’. I had to remind them they can’t the product can only go viral.  I suggested we find people to talk about it.  My response is not to go to an intermediary. go to the customers.  put it to the people who would actually use it. 
    • TH: it’s not giving products away for free only. It can be the things around it, the experience.
    • DP: audi, free wifi, breakfast, things to do
    • DS: now everyone has a different perspective on audi. it’s nuanced. 
  • Q: can you distill this into a takeaway?

    • HM – social objects ate
    • TH: turn it around, be part of the community, listen, embrace the chaos, find your higher purpose
    • CH: passion for people and product
    • DS: technology changes, human behaviour doesn’t. nothing replaces listening, get out of tower.
  • Q: I work for PETA and what we give away for free is our message? is that annoying?

    • CH: saying the only thing you have is a message is wrong. you are connecting to a higher purpose, to a felling.
    • TH: I don’t remember the emails, shows that you have not connecting.
    • DS: are you giving them something they be interested in or just what you want to sell. Think about you are only talking to these people when you need them – cultivate the connections you have.
  • Q: I work for Kaboom. A lot of the things you have suggested we have done and it has not taken off as we hoped. now I have all these goals I need to reach. What can I take back to explain that this takes time.  The vision is to make a great place to play for every child in america.

    •    HM: they don’t get it…
    • CH : it’s not campaigns, it’s programmes, you have to change the mentality. get qualitative results, people who have heard online and show the stories.
  • Q: Why are you doing this – because you believe or is it a fad?

    • JO: marketing does not exist to hide shitty products, there is a reason.
    • CH: marketing has become associated with sales as opposed to matching product with user.
    • DP: it’s about stories and relationships, helping them work out what they are doing. it’s been a fun ride.
    • DS: it’s a personal mission, not a fad. I’m not a marketer, but a customer advocate. I love that everyone has a voice,
    • CH: it’s about what is your intention.

HM – a story without love is not worth telling

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Oct 07

Futures of Entertainment 2

Last year I really enjoyed Futures of Entertainment, a 2 day conference up at MIT, all about transmedia entertainment. they are runningit again this year and details can be found on their site. I’ve gone and booked a ticket (assuming i can sort out the logistics). Last year I live blogged it, which considering each session was about 3 hours, took some concentration!. I’ve listed the posts below. Sam Ford has some links as well. Well worth the time I think, so go and book now over here.

Virtual Worlds: They are becoming platforms for thought experiments — some of which involve fantasies we would not like to enact in the real world, others involve possibilities that we may want to test market before putting into practice.

Fan Cultures: Courted, encouraged, engaged and acknowledged, fans are more and more frequently being recognized as trendsetters, viral marketers, and grassroots intermediaries

Transmedia Properties Part 1 – an introduction

Transmedia part 2

User Generated Content Part 1: Caterina Fake, Ji Lee, Rob Tercek, Kevin Barrett.

User Generated Content – part 2

The Future of Television: Andy Hunter, Mark Warshaw, Josh Bernoff, Betsy Morga

Jun 13

Blogher 07 and Scrapblog

Interested in going to Blogher07. Scrapblog have joined forces with the conference to offer an all-expenses paid trip to the conference for two. But only in North America – I wish these competitions for web based companies which are global in their vary nature would make these restrictions clear on the main page and not buried in terms and conditions.

Entry is simple – create a scrapblog, tag it and get people to visit it. This is a traffic and member generation strategy, as the more people you get to see your scrapblog, the more entries you get. Go ahead- what are you waiting for.

Mar 29

Blogger Samples

Tonight at the Problogger meetup, I met up with Keith, from (do you need a warning that that link is NSFW?) As an e-commerce site, it is very web2.0; there’s a pretty good blog, all the right prompts to delicious, digg, technorati etc and the UGC competition – submit your own erotic story.

Furthermore Keith is quite happy for bloggers to get samples to test and blog about – and I’m pretty sure he won’t need them back 😉 Considering the other blog is called Behind the Buzz, that could be something to think about!

Feb 06

Walmart Video and the importance of cross-browser testing

Walmart launch a new video download service today. Apparently their development team is browser challenged as they only appear to have IE available to them. Under that app, their site looks, well, not beautiful but at least OK.

Walmart Video on IE

However, on Firefox it looks like this:

Walmart Video on Firefox

I know that sites sometimes launch without full testing…and that Walmart Video is probably targeted fully at those who have never heard of anyother browser but a token effort to fail gracefully would have been nice. (Tip: Valleywag)

Jan 25

Domino’s Anything Goes – Tracking a video

This is now back…some changes but nothing substantial.

One of the projects I’ve been working on, at least from a metrics and tracking perspective, is a US campaign for Domino’s Pizza: Anything Goes, any large pizza, any topping any crust for $9.99. Supported by a heavy TV promotion, in-store, email, SMS, online advertising, all the usual stuff, it also had an unusual contest and teaser video component.

The concept behind the online promotion is that anything goes for $9.99. So for 5 weeks, starting 1 Jan, Dominos have been auctioning items on eBay for $9.99. From ipods to video cameras to home entertainment systems everything was the one price. It was set up as an Buy it Now auction; to find the items, a clue was posted everyday on the microsite that when solved gave the keywords associated with the auction page and you were told within what time period the items would be posted. There was a lot of commetary about it within the eBay community as well, as this was a new thing for the service to participate in.

There were also 4 big prizes. With each of these, there is an associated set of videos that tell a story that leads up to why the item is being sold. The first one went up 15 Jan, 2 weeks before the campaign was launched, in 3 video channels (YT, metacafe, AOL Uncut). So, meet Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is a sweet (!) 16 year whose father bought her the wrong colour car for her birthday. Looking at her videos, you eventually find out that she gets the car that she wants and she puts her Saab convertible up on ebay to sell it. And it went pretty quickly – see the winner here. A second series set up the sale of a big screen TV and there are 2 more that went up this week, one for a Harley Davidson and one for one last big surprise. (the big surprise was a Lotus car)

So that’s the campaign, let’s take a look a little closer at Mackenzie. Her behaviour drove a lot of comments, most people condemning her at various levels of politeness (it definitely brought out the worst online attitude in some people). And the views that the series for, especially the first one, were OK but not spectacular. That was until it was ‘borrowed’ – downloaded from one of the services and reposted. If any of the initial re-posters credited their source, I could not find it, which again indicates an interesting attitude. We found it first on YouTube, then Break, then 4 other sites and saw the views really stack up. Break has by far got the most views that we can count. It may be in many other places that we’ve not found yet.

The pinnacle has been appearing on the front page of AOL, on their video blog,(where it is the most commented at the moment) making their top viral video and being picked as video of the day. If only we could get the viewing numbers!

Mackenzie on AOL

Interestingly, AOL got the video from iFilm. Now, none of these reposts are branded, although the connection is normally made in the comments. But the company is still getting the benefit, being able to talk about the success in press and on TV.

Some lessons from this:

  • Don’t be surprised how long it takes for something to take off. Most views on the videos have taken place after the auctions are complete, items can have a slow burn
  • Be prepared for the comments. Once it’s out on the web, people can say anything. However, comments were closed on the video with the winner in it – there’s a difference between a character and a prize winner.
  • Don’t expect success with everything, even if the creative team is the same. Mackenzie did well, Rich man not so much. It’ll be a few weeks before we now the results of the last 2 sets.
  • Don’t be surprised when things are taken and not credited to you. Work out how to make that a success as well

After that, I’m back to recording video views.

Jan 17

SpecialK and Flash

Flash is commonly used with websites to bring life and movement, to bring entertainment and improve the experience. When used well, it really helps with telling the story and getting a message across. When used badly, it sucks. Kellogg’s Special K use of flash definitely falls into the latter category. It uses heavy flash to display product information (killing the browser at the same time). Whilst product info is in the flash object, a badly formatted image pops up to display nutritional info which looks like it was scanned in from the packets. Flash is not the best software to use for an information driven site, however much your agency tries to sell you this!

Jan 10

The advertising world and the new web

Hugh is offering to help solve the conundrum of meshing big, corporate business advertising as performed by the big corporate advertising agencies with the world that is Web2.0. He has a solution he’s willing to offer you for $100k. And if I had the cash, I might have taken him up on the offer, given the success he’s having with Stormhoek, English Cut and others.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep plugging away here, hopefully breaking down a few barriers and making small steps into moving the big clients closer to a different way of using the web. I mentioned fear in my comment and sometimes this has a real foundation beyond the fear of lack of control. Previous skirmishes fought, previous damage to reputations mean the drawbridges are just harder to get down, especially in a litigious environment. But opening peoples eyes to what is out there about their brand, surprising them with all the positive stuff (remember the bloggers and the boards are not just negative) helps them on their way. You have to find the chink in the armour, the first steps that they are comfortable with before you can jump all the way head first into pool.

Update: an interesting survey from Sapient underlines the mistrust that CMO’s have with the big agencies doing digital as well, with only 10% believing the traditional agencies can move into interactive. The six key (aggregated) attributes are:

  • 1. Quality of Creative Content
  • 2. Innovation and Strategic Value
  • 3. Price/Cost
  • 4. Sophisticated Analytics and Measurement Systems
  • 5. Proficiency in Emerging, Interactive or Digital Media
  • 6. Traditional Print, Offline and Media Buying Services

Interactive is now ranking higher than the traditional stuff.

Jan 04

Vista Promotion

Dave Taylor has a good take on the Vista laptop promotion being run by Microsoft and Edelman. In his opinion they’re sending out laptops instead of the OS DVD as the upgrade process, combined with the machine specs would mean that many of the target bloggers would not have a good time installing this. There are copies of Vista around (I’ve got one somewhere) so that tactic is being tried, but getting a DVD through the post is not as near as much fun as unwrapping a laptop. The PR team are trying to leverage that thrill factor and would probably have done it even if the upgrade was the simplest process in the world (by which I mean put disc in drive and click once).

Nov 27

Choosing a Blog Consultant

Eric, over at CommonSense PR, has listed 5 key points about choosing a blogging consultant.  Some excellent points there, especially about checking the blogging history of the consultant and ther references.  I would add a further one, in that also check the variety and breadth of previous work.  One thing I have found with digital teams for marketing websites is that sometimes the company can have a very long track record of completed projects but every single one is the ‘same’, they just changed the colours and the words with little or no creative thought.   SO, when choosing a consultant check that they understand the media well enough to know that you cannot apply the same solution each time, each solution has to be created anew.

Nov 24

Starbucks – It’s Red Again

Starbucks’ itsredagain is their Holiday website.  It’s definitely multilingual, having you pass through 2 pages to choose your language and even gives a subtitle choice for those lacking speakers ;-).   There’s nothing groundbreaking here, with a choice of send your own greeting card or submit your Christmas tradition to be added to the interactive map.  But what is there is done well, very well.  Good creative, flowing usability, it;s about knowing what you want to do and executing superbly.   The page also links out to, a blog for people to submit stories of random acts of kindness, creating a cheerpass to pass the story along and share the joy.   I was tickled by the Terms of Use agreement, where I agree to submit my data to the US “a jurisdiction that may not have the same level of data protection laws as my home country.” a clear statement that once my data is on a US server, I no longer own it.